When it comes to choosing a personal watercraft (PWC), widely known as a jet ski, you will find a lot of options in the market. There are many things you need to consider when buying the best jet ski. For beginners, these things can be quite overwhelming. Also, PWCs are not cheap. This makes it even more important for you to choose a jet ski that will last you ages.
In this blog, we are going to discuss the most important things you need to know when choosing a PWC. These include the types of PWCs and important tips to consider before buying either a new or a used PWC.
Let us start our discussion with the different types of jet skis you can choose from based on model and rider position.
All of the major brands of personal watercraft offer machines in different categories with each category having its own unique purpose. It is crucial for you to understand the features of each category to make sure that what you get matches your specific needs and riding skills.
There are 5 major categories of PWCs based on model.
The jet skis in this category offer the most powerful engines that are excellent for experienced riders who are planning to race on the waters. Their engines can reach up to 130 km/h in under 3 seconds only. However, this speed voids the jet ski’s warranty. Performance PWCs offer additional power that is not needed unless you are racing. Thus, they are not for first-time riders.
Here are some performance jet skis offered by the most popular PWC brands:
Kawasaki: Ultra 310LX (fastest with a 130 km/h top speed)
Yamaha: VXR (105 km/h), GP 1800 (115 km/h)
Bombardier: GTR 230 (105 km/h)
Ideal for racing
Not recommended for newbie riders
A luxury personal watercraft is ideal for riders who want to upgrade their first jet skis into a more comfortable one with added power. They offer the largest engines with top speeds reaching up to 65 MPH. But, just like other luxury vehicles, luxury jet skis are expensive.
Below are the products offered by the major brands in this category:
Kawasaki: Ultra 310X
Yamaha: FX HO, FX, SVHO
Bombardier: GTX 155, GTX Limited 300
A bit pricey (you need to pay for the accessories you get)
For now, Sea-Doo is the only brand that offers tow-sport jet skis. They have Wake Pro 230 and Wake 155 which are specially designed for riders who do pull sports such as wakeboarding and tubing. Sea-Doo’s Wake 155 was intended for hobbyists. Meanwhile, its Pro 230 has more stability and a stronger engine that you can drive up to 60 MPH.
Perfect for tow sports enthusiasts
Has a wakeboard holder
Ski Pylon feature raises the rope higher and away from the pump
Offers different driving modes
Sea-Doo’s Wake 155 ($11,999) is not much cheaper compared to its Pro version ($14,699). Thus, many would recommend buying Wake Pro 230 instead of Wake 155.
This is the most famous personal watercraft category. Most rentals offer recreation jet skis which offer more stability compared to rec-lites but with the same nimbleness. They offer speeds from 42 to 62 MPH and have better options for storage compared to rec-lites. They are also fantastic options for families.
Each of the top 3 PWC brands offers multiple recreation jet skis:
Kawasaki: Ulta LX, STX-15F
Yamaha: VX, VX Limited, VX Cruiser HO, VX Cruiser, VX Deluxe,
Bombardier: GTI 90, GTI 130, GTS, GTI Limited 155, GTI SE 155, GTI SE 130
More storage space
Does not offer speeds as some buyers expect
Does not handle larger models
The Rec-Lite jet ski category was introduced by Bombardier through its Sea-Doo Spark personal watercraft in 2014. They are available in 2 and 3-seater versions and can operate at speeds of 40 to 50 MPH. They are also the most budget-friendly versions of PWCs, making them an ideal option for those who are new to jet skis. Yamaha has 3-seater rec-lite PWCs (EX series) while Kawasaki does not offer products under this category.
Lightweight (especially Sea-Doo Spark)
Uncomfortable seating (lacks cushioning)
When choosing a jet ski, you will also be given an option whether you want a sit-down or a stand-up one.
If you want to go on a solo ride, then stand-up jet skis would be perfect for you. However, take note that they are much more difficult to ride compared to sit-down jet skis because you are forced to stand. They have a steep learning curve so they are not recommended for inexperienced or newbie riders.
Stand-up jet skis offer a different experience compared to sit-down jet skis. They are more engaging because they require great finesse and balance while riding. However, only two stand-up PWCs are available in the market – one each from Kawasaki and Yamaha.
Easier to transport and store
Their simple build makes them easier to maintain
They only allow one rider
Cannot be used for towing
Difficult to ride at first
Only 2 models are available
Most personal watercrafts available in the market are sit-down jet skis. They are easier to ride compared to stand-up jet skis. Thus, allowing for more people with different riding abilities to join the fun of jet ski riding. One of the biggest advantages of sit-down jet skis is their large size which can accommodate 2-3 riders.
Sit-down PWCs can also be used for towing which makes them an excellent alternative if you cannot afford a boat. Moreover, some of the fastest and most powerful PWCs are sit-down jet skis. They can offer up to 70 MPH and 300 horsepower. They also offer spacious storage compartments.
Easier to ride
Affordable and more comfortable to ride
Can accommodate more people
Ideal for towing and long-distance rides
Available in 44 models
They cannot perform tricks that a stand-up jet ski can
They are heavy and thus require bigger trailers and more space
Your decision whether to buy a new or pre-owned personal watercraft will depend on your budget and needs. Below is a comparison of the pros and cons of new and used PWCs.
Here are some important tips we can give you before choosing your own personal watercraft.
Do not be impulsive when buying a new PWC. Set a price, know your preferences, and choose a specific date to shop. Creating a rough draft of these things will make a big difference during the buying process. Do not settle for a PWC because it is cheap but do not be pressured to buy more than what you really need.
Without having an outline of your preferences, you might buy unnecessary accessories that you did not originally want. Knowing when you should buy is also crucial because there are seasons that manufacturers offer promotions. You might get better deals during the fall and spring seasons because it is during these times that dealerships clear their inventories.
Analyzing your PWC riding skill level is important before you get very excited and run down to a dealership. You do not need to be that experienced in riding a PWC before you can buy a new one but it is always good to learn the basics of jet ski riding first. This is important to help you narrow down your options. .
PWCs come in a wide variety of styles, makes, and models. Learning to ride a PWC will help you make a more educated buying decision..
Staying informed about the latest PWCs can help you get good deals on the new jet ski you are eyeing for. Make sure that you are updated on the recent prices. Do not agree to unfair prices. Most of the current PWC prices range from $5,000 to $18,000 which is quite a large price gap so it is important that you are educated on the prices of specific PWC models.
Also, the prices of new PWCs may change in every season. Thus, we recommend that you check the website of manufacturers for their current offers. Do not simply agree to the prices that the salesmen at your dealership offer.
Most PWC accessories are not that important but you will find some items useful for your new PWC. These items include marine GPS, life jackets, and jet ski covers. You can pick up many great accessories at dealerships. However, you need to check their prices because there are some that are significantly marked up.
The major difference between a fixed dock and a floating dock is that floating docks are temporary so you can easily remove and store them when you don’t need them. Floating docks are also cheaper compared to fixed docks.
Some insurance companies may offer you better plans compared to others so make sure to check your options. PWC owners can usually expect insurance costs from $100 to $500 per year. But of course, the price will depend on different factors. Below are the key criteria that will determine how much you will be spending on your PWC’s insurance:
Your jet ski’s current value
Model, make, and year of your jet ski
Engine type and horsepower
Any modifications you made to your jet ski
History of previous insurances
Aside from the ones mentioned above, insurance companies may include other standards too so it is recommended to make a phone call first and get a quote for your jet ski’s insurance. You can also read on these effective tips on jet ski maintenance to help prolong the lifespan of your new watercraft.
For experienced riders, buying a used PWC is not a problem. But for beginners, there are a lot of things you need to consider. So to help you get away from bad deals, here are a few tips you should know.
Being too eager when buying a PWC is a big mistake commonly made by people. Although it is tempting to go and buy a PWC especially during summer, it is important to stay patient. This is because you might make bad decisions. When you are planning to buy a used PWC, you need to do thorough research on your options first to make sure that you will get a good deal.
Whether you are buying a new or a used PWC, it is important to water test it first. Aside from making sure that the PWC actually runs properly, water testing allows you to feel its performance and how comfortable you are in riding it. A salesman or dealer may tell you that the PWC runs well but do not ever make a purchase without water testing it successfully.
Check that all gauges work properly and no warning lights are on. See to it that the PWC can maintain a healthy RPM when operated at full throttle.
You can easily find the current prices of used PWCs online. Try to check your local market too and look for similar models and makes. Another tip is to take your PWC to a dealership. They will often give you a reasonable estimate and some are even willing to run tests on it to make sure that it is working properly. But, take note that they are still dealers so expect their opinions to have some biases.
You should also consider buying more affordable options. Most of the time, first-time buyers consider used PWCs because they think that they are cheaper compared to new ones. But, not all brand new PWCs are expensive because there are also some amazing affordable options like Sea-Doo’s Spark which only costs $5,399 and Yamaha’s EX series starting from $6,699. These are only 2 of the most popular models but you are free to check other options.
These cheap PWC models come with the latest features with excellent performance. Although buying a used PWC is a good option, it is not your only option because purchasing a new one is actually more affordable because you don’t need to think about maintenance costs.
All PWCs, especially used ones, have hidden costs. So when you set your budget, leave some for these. Below are some of the primary hidden PWC costs:
A little ding, dent, or scratch on a PWC is fine but if there are a lot, it is not a good sign. Before you buy a used PWC, make sure that you have inspected it thoroughly for damages. A simple dent in its hull can lead to costly leaks. Below are the major damages you need to check.
The number of hours of a pre-owned PWC indicates how much it has been used, just as mileage is to a car. A PWC usually has 30 hours/year on average. Anything higher than 30 hours are called “high hours” and lower values are called “low hours”. But it does not mean that a PWC having high hours will not run properly. If it was well-maintained, it can still operate without any issues.
Below are the key things you need to look at when analyzing how much a pre-owned PWC was used.
Once you have familiarized yourself with the basics of PWCs, it is time to choose what brand of PWC you will be buying. The three most popular brands in the market are Kawasaki’s Jet Ski, Yamaha’s WaveRunner, and Bombardier’s Sea-Doo. Here, we are going to discuss the prices, pros, and cons of each brand to help you choose the best one.
For riders who prioritize power and who want to get an adrenaline rush on the waters, Kawasaki would be your best option. It is the most popular manufacturer of PWCs. In fact, all recreational PWCs are generally called jet skis.
Kawasaki’s PWCs offer the most powerful engines that are ideal for racing and include features that other brands do not have such as heat resistant seats and built-in speakers. The catch is, jet skis are not for consumers with tight budgets because they are expensive.
As a well-known corporation, Yamaha has built a reputable PWC brand – the WaveRunner. They can ensure the reliability of their products with their years of experience in the industry. Their WaveRunners are perfect for families and since Yamaha is a huge company, finding mechanics and parts for your jet ski is not an issue.
When it comes to maintenance, the engines of WaveRunners are durable so maintenance is manageable on your own. Through this, you can cut down on your expenses. Though WaveRunners are more expensive compared to Sea-Doos, the WaveRunner’s durable engine, fuel efficiency, safety features, and excellent braking system will be worth your money.
Sea-Doo is the oldest brand of jet-propelled PWCs. It was invented by a popular motorcycle racer and looked like a water ski, but powered. Due to the affordable prices, light weight, and easy controls of Sea-Doos, they are great options for newbie riders and buyers who are on a tight budget.
You can also upgrade your jet ski if you want but the price will be the same as Yamaha’s WaveRunners after you have paid for all of the upgrades. But, Sea-Doos are still generally cheaper.
Personal watercrafts are regarded as small vessels so the same federal and state laws apply to them. But, these laws may vary depending on where you are located and other factors such as:
The three fastest PWC’s are:
Kawasaki Ultra 310LX
Yamaha WaveRunner FX Series
The requirements for jet ski insurance differ by state. In some places, they would require basic insurance coverage before you can operate on public waterways. Make sure that you know the applicable regulations in your place before operating a jet ski. But regardless of whether having insurance is required in your place, we still recommend getting jet ski insurance.
Insuring your jet ski will generally cost from $100 to $500 a year but this will depend on many factors such as your location and your jet ski’s model, manufacture date, maximum speed, and engine horsepower.
PWC insurance usually covers the following:
Towing your jet ski in case you need to transport it
Liability for water sport activities and towing skiers
Injuries you get from accidents caused by an uninsured boater
Physical damages to your jet ski
Death or bodily injuries you are responsible with
Damages you caused to the property of another person
Riding a jet ski is a great way of getting an adrenaline rush in the waters. However, how much enjoyment you will have will depend on the jet ski you are riding so you need to make sure that you buy one that fits your actual needs. Lastly, always prioritize your safety before going on a ride, especially if you are a beginner. Hopefully, this guide was able to help you find your ideal personal watercraft.
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